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USENIX 2003 Annual Technical Conference, FREENIX Track — Abstract
Pp. 151-164 of the Proceedings

StarFish: Highly-Available Block Storage
Awarded Best Paper!

Eran Gabber, Jeff Fellin, Michael Flaster, Fengrui Gu, Bruce Hillyer, Wee Teck Ng, Banu Özden, and Elizabeth Shriver, Lucent Technologies — Bell Laboratories


In this paper we present StarFish, a highly-available geographically-dispersed block storage system built from commodity servers running FreeBSD, which are connected by standard high-speed IP networking gear. StarFish achieves high availability by transparently replicating data over multiple storage sites. StarFish is accessed via a host-site appliance that masquerades as a host-attached storage device, hence it requires no special hardware or software in the host computer. We show that a StarFish system with 3 replicas and a write quorum size of 2 is a good choice, based on a formal analysis of data availability and reliability: 3 replicas with individual availability of 99%, a write quorum of 2, and read-only consistency gives better than 99.9999% data availability. Although StarFish increases the per-request latency relative to a direct-attached RAID, we show how to design a highly-available StarFish configuration that provides most of the performance of a direct-attached RAID on an I/O-intensive benchmark, even during the recovery of a failed replica. Moreover, the third replica may be connected by a link with long delays and limited bandwidth, which alleviates the necessity of dedicated communication links to all replicas.
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